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Little Brother and the Escape from Homeland Security

Contributed by Alex Shrugged

Today Cory is really, really pissed off. He needs to get his "mad" out, and since he is a writer, he is doing that by writing a book. He can't eat. He can't sleep. The words fly from his fingertips as he types. In 27 days his work is done, and it is frickin' great! The book is entitled, "Little Brother" which is a reference to the book 1984 and "Big Brother is watching you". It is the story of a high school student who has been playing an online game with his friends, but one day he is caught in the city during school hours when a terrorist bomb goes off. He looks guilty, so agents of Homeland Security take him into custody without benefit of a lawyer, nor much of anything else. He soon realizes that Homeland Security has been monitoring him, so he decides to monitor them back. Thus Little Brother is now watching Big Brother. It is an exciting story with a lot of detail on ways to avoid being tracked. Some of those anti-tracking methods are totally fictional, but others are entirely correct. A bibliography with hyperlinks is included. Unfortunately, Cory Doctorow is infected by the left. Nevertheless, the Left and the Right meet on issues like oppressive government surveillance. "Little Brother" is an intelligent book, and it is FREE for download! (click here.) I also recommend Steve Gibson's Security Now! episode 607 "Proactive Privacy, Really!". [1] [2] [3]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Apparently, Cory Doctorow was reacting to the Bush Administration's NSA warrantless wiretapping. The NSA electronically monitors international communications to catch terrorists, but after 9-11 they began sweeping up everything. They were not necessarily looking at everything. They were analyzing the data stream. Credit card companies do the same thing. By analyzing the data, they know who is going on a trip, who is pregnant, who is gay, and who is voting Republican. They also know when a credit card is stolen because purchases often veer out of the norm. But after 9-11 the data was analyzed to find terrorists, and it worked. Homeland Security has sweeping powers, and they were doing secret things inside the USA without proper warrants, so in 2008, under pressure from the public, Congress extended the authority of the FISA courts to issue warrants for mass data collection. (Yeah. Secret courts issuing hidden warrants and instant gag orders against US citizens. That'll fix it!) These secret warrants cannot be challenged, so you are trusting that your government knows what is best. After all, it checked with the government first. Dear God, what is next? Judge Dredd? Just make every police officer a judge too, and you'll never have another problem... that you know of. [4] [5] [6] [7]


Contributed by Southpaw Ben


My Take by Southpaw Ben

A Guerilla Ad Campaign Panics the Public

Contributed by Alex Shrugged

Aqua Teen Hunger Force is a late night cartoon series on the Cartoon Network. It is a spinoff from the campy cartoon talk show Space Ghost Coast to Coast. In order to sell it to the corporate suits, Aqua Teen Hunger Force began as a detective agency located in a South New Jersey neighborhood. The main characters are talking fast food products: a meatball, a shake, and a bag of fries, but soon the creators drop the idea of solving crimes and do strange, random stuff with the characters. Now the show has produced an animated film, so in order to promote it they hire a small ad agency to create magnetic signs that light up similar to a lite-brite toy of the 1960s, but what do they put on the sign? The show has two recurring characters, the Mooninites. They are boxy, pixelated characters who freely flip off the audience. Perfect. Signs with a Mooninite extending the middle finger are distributed around Boston. They hope the signs will generate a lot of talk. They certainly do that. Most of the public has never seen the cartoon series, so they have no context. Many fear that the pixelated characters might be bombs! (Yes. Every mad bomber places lights on his bomb, so that the police are sure to find it.) Panic ensues. The show's creators are brought to justice. They seem strangely unrepentant. Eventually, they are forced to apologize for endangering the public with signs. Boston has become a laughing stock. [8] [9] [10]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Well... this gives you an idea of the mind set of the time. People were still worried over suicide bombers and retaliations over the War in Iraq. Although it was a reasonable worry, if they had just stopped to think for a moment, the whole thing would have blown over in a day. Instead officials dragged it out for a week, making everyone in Boston look like fools except the people who created the guerilla ad campaign in the first place. They were delighted. Their audience was made up of young adults who needed a good laugh, and they got one. If it was at the expense of their elders... even better.

Notable Births

None that I can find as yet.--alexshrugged

Notable Deaths

  • Yvonne De Carlo (age 84, heart failure): Lily Munster on The Musters. [11]
  • Dan Fogelberg (age 56, prostate cancer): Singer/Songwriter. (Best known to me for "The Leader of the Band", a tribute to Fogelberg's father.--alexshrugged) [11]
  • Anna Nicole Smith (age 39, prescription drug overdose): Actress and TV personality. Her overdose is considered an accidental combination of prescription drugs. [11]
  • Ike Turner (age 76, cocaine toxicity): Musician/songwriter. His ex-wife and singer, Tina Turner, accused him of domestic violence. His crack cocaine addiction, and prison time killed his career. (And him, apparently.--alexshrugged) [11] [12]

This Year in Film

  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End: . [13]
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: . [13]
  • And...: Transformers, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, and The Bourne Ultimatum. [13]

This Year in TV

  • Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?: Jeff Foxworthy hosts a comedy quiz show. [14]
  • The Big Bang Theory: Sit-com. Two physicists from Caltech share an apartment with a waitress. Comedy ensues. [14]
  • Private Practice: A spin-off from Grey's Anatomy. (I watched it for a while. It was good.--alexshrugged) [14]
  • Jon & Kate Plus 8: Reality show starring the Gosselin family and their 8 children made up of sextuplets and twins. It will be renamed Kate Plus 8 after their divorce. (I stopped watching at that point.--alexshrugged) [14]

This Year in Music

  • Irreplaceable: Beyoncé. "Don't you ever for a second get to thinking / You're irreplaceable." [15]
  • Not Ready to Make Nice: Dixie Chicks. (Good song. Natalie Maines is still reacting to the criticism she and the band received for disrespecting President Bush overseas.--alexshrugged) [15] [16]
  • Gimme More: Britney Spears. "It's Britney Bitch / I see you / And I just wanna dance with you." [15]

This Year in Video Games

  • Xbox 360 sucks!: Hardware quality control is poor. Many systems are bricked during updates. Microsoft apologizes and replaces bad systems. (Good move. Xbox was on the verge of being shunned by the fans.--alexshrugged) [17] [18]
  • Halo 3 on Xbox 360: It rakes in $170 million in 24 hours, the highest grossing opening day to date. [17]
  • World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade: An expansion set for World of Warcraft on the PC. [17]
  • Madden NFL 08: (Yet again.--alexshrugged) [17]

In Other News

  • Nancy Pelosi becomes the first female Speaker of the House: . [19]
  • The Apple iPhone launches: . [20]
  • Microsoft releases Windows Vista: (It has problems, but the security upgrades are vital for the future. Windows 7 is better. I am avoiding Windows 8 and 10.--alexshrugged). [21] [19][22]
  • A mentally ill Virginia Tech student goes on a shooting spree, killing 32: A debate on selling guns to the mentally ill ensues. (Generally speaking, the insane should not own guns, but how does one determine who is insane? Those individuals who are legally found to be incompetent by a court are a very small group.--alexshrugged) [19][23]
  • Cyclone Sidr hits Bangladesh, killing 3,000 to 10,000: (The death toll depends on how you attribute the cause of death. Death from disease in the aftermath could legitimately be attributed to the cyclone, although the deaths would be an indirect result.--alexshrugged) [24] [19][25]
  • The I-35W Mississippi River bridge in Minnesota collapses during rush hour, killing 13: The load exceeded the bridge's designed capacity causing critical supports to buckle. [19][26]
  • Southern California wildfires force the evacuation of over 1 million: . [19][27]
  • The Writers Guild of America goes on strike: Reality TV gets a massive boost since it is largely improvisational. [19][28]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 2007, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts. New York Times (December 16, 2005). Archived from the original on February 6, 2006. Retrieved on 19 May 2017. “Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years in an effort to track possible 'dirty numbers' linked to Al Qaeda, the officials said. The agency, they said, still seeks warrants to monitor entirely domestic communications. The previously undisclosed decision to permit some eavesdropping inside the country without court approval was a major shift in American intelligence-gathering practices, particularly for the National Security Agency, whose mission is to spy on communications abroad. As a result, some officials familiar with the continuing operation have questioned whether the surveillance has stretched, if not crossed, constitutional limits on legal searches.”
  2. Doctorow, Cory. Little Brother. Tor Teen. ISBN 9780765323118. 
  3. Security Now 607 Proactive Privacy, Really!. Twit.tv (April 1, 2017). Retrieved on 19 May 2017. “This week Steve and Leo discuss Symantec finding 40 past attacks explained by the Vault7 document leaks, an incremental improvement coming to CA certificate issuance, Microsoft patches a 0-day Office vulnerability that was being exploited in the wild, what's a "BricketBot"?, why you need a secure DNS registrar, This Week in IoT Tantrums, a head shaker from our "You really can't make this stuff up" department, the present danger of fake VPN services, an older edition of Windows reaches end-of-patch-life, some "closing the loop" feedback from our listeners, a bit of miscellany, and a comprehensive survey of privacy encroaching technologies and what can be done to limit their grasp.”
  4. Judge Dredd trailer 1995 - YouTube. Retrieved on 19 May 2017.
  5. "FBI obtained FISA warrant to monitor Trump adviser Carter Page - The Washington Post", April 11, 2017. Retrieved on 19 May 2017. “The FBI obtained a secret court order last summer to monitor the communications of an adviser to presidential candidate Donald Trump, part of an investigation into possible links between Russia and the campaign, law enforcement and other U.S. officials said. The FBI and the Justice Department obtained the warrant targeting Carter Page’s communications after convincing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge that there was probable cause to believe Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power, in this case Russia, according to the officials.” 
  6. What is the FISA court, and why is it so secretive? - CNNPolitics.com (April 12, 2017). Retrieved on 19 May 2017. “After the 9/11 terror attacks, the court started authorizing more sweeping collections of mass data. In 2008, for example, changes in surveillance laws gave the attorney general and the national intelligence director more authority to order 'mass acquisition' of electronic traffic as long as it's related to a terror or espionage investigation. In other words, a FISA court judge could authorize the collection of a telecom company's entire database of phone records if it's deemed relevant to counterterrorism efforts.”
  7. "White House Begins New Effort to Defend Surveillance Program - The New York Times", January 23, 2006. Retrieved on 19 May 2017. “Mr. Bush hotly denied charges that he had done anything illegal by authorizing the warrantless eavesdropping program. 'If I wanted to break the law,' he told an audience at Kansas State University, 'why was I briefing Congress?'” 
  8. Lite-Brite - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 19 May 2017. “Lite-Brite is a toy that was originally marketed in 1967. It consists of a light box with small colored plastic pegs that fit into a panel and illuminate to create a lit picture, by either using one of the included templates or creating a 'freeform' image on a blank sheet of black paper. There are eight peg colors: red, blue, orange, white (clear/colorless), green, yellow, pink, violet (purple).”
  9. Ignignokt Mooninite LED Advertisement - Uncrate. Retrieved on 19 May 2017. “In case you missed it, Boston slowed to a crawl yesterday due to a bomb scare over ads for Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Now you can buy your very own 'bomb' thanks to Boston-area eBayers. The Ignignokt Mooninite LED Advertisement ($TBD) features LEDs mounted on a circuit board and powered by 4 D-cell batteries, with a photosensitivity sensor to keep the lights off during the day. It may not do a whole lot, but it's definitely an interesting piece of advertising history.”
  10. "Looking back at the Boston Mooninite panic, 10 years later", The Boston Globe, January 31, 2017. Retrieved on 19 May 2017. “What could have been a one-day story morphed into a week-long saga that stoked fear from residents, anger from local authorities, embarrassment and regret from the companies involved in the stunt, and amusement and derision from the artists and people across the nation, who found it hilarious that Boston had launched into full-blown crisis mode over 'suspicious objects' that most closely resembled a Lite-Brite toy and featured a cartoon alien giving the middle finger.” 
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 2007 Deaths - Wikipedia (2007).
  12. Ike Turner - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 18 May 2017. “Allegations by Tina Turner of domestic violence by Ike, published in her autobiography I, Tina and included in its film adaptation What's Love Got to Do with It, coupled with his cocaine addiction, damaged Ike Turner's career in the 1980s and 1990s.[8] Addicted to cocaine and crack for at least 15 years, Turner was convicted of drug offenses, serving seventeen months in prison between July 1989 and 1991.”
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 2007 in film - Wikipedia (2007). Retrieved on 27 January 2017.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 2007 in television - Wikipedia (2007).
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 2007 in music - Wikipedia (2007). Retrieved on 30 January 2017.
  16. Not Ready to Make Nice - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 18 May 2017. “Controversy erupted over the Dixie Chicks in 2003 following a critical comment vocalist Natalie Maines made on the American President George W. Bush while performing in a concert in London, United Kingdom. In relation to the forthcoming invasion of Iraq, Maines said, '...we don't want this war, this violence, and we're ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.'”
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 2007 in video gaming - Wikipedia (2007).
  18. Xbox 360 technical problems - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 18 May 2017. “The Xbox 360 video game console is subject to a number of technical problems and failures that can render it unusable. However, many of the issues can be identified by a series of glowing red lights flashing on the face of the console; the three flashing red lights (nicknamed the 'Red Ring of Death' or the 'RRoD') being the most famous. There are also other issues that arise with the console, such as discs becoming scratched in the drive and 'bricking' of consoles due to dashboard updates.”
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 19.5 19.6 2007 - Wikipedia.
  20. Apple - Press Info - Apple Reinvents the Phone with iPhone (January 9, 2007). Retrieved on June 22, 2016.
  21. Microsoft Launches Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007 to Consumers Worldwide (January 29, 2007).
  22. Windows Vista - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 18 May 2017. “Microsoft's primary stated objective with Windows Vista was to improve the state of security in the Windows operating system. One common criticism of Windows XP and its predecessors was their commonly exploited security vulnerabilities and overall susceptibility to malware, viruses and buffer overflows. In light of this, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates announced in early 2002 a company-wide 'Trustworthy Computing initiative', which aimed to incorporate security into every aspect of software development at the company.”
  23. Seung-Hui Cho - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 18 May 2017. “Seung-Hui Cho (in Korean, properly 'Cho Seung-Hui') (January 18, 1984 – April 16, 2007) was a South Korean spree killer and mass murderer who killed 32 people and wounded 17 others armed with two semi-automatic pistols on April 16, 2007, at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia. An additional six people were injured jumping from windows to escape. He was a senior-level undergraduate student at the university. The shooting rampage came to be known as the Virginia Tech shooting. Cho committed suicide after police breached the doors of the building where most of the shooting had taken place.”
  24. Foster, Peter. "Bangladesh cyclone death toll hits 15,000", 2007-11-18. 
  25. Cyclone Sidr - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 18 May 2017. “The storm eventually made landfall in Bangladesh on November 15, 2007, causing large-scale evacuations. 3,447 deaths were blamed on the storm. Save the Children estimated the number of deaths associated with the cyclone to be between 5,000 and 10,000, while the Red Crescent Society reported on November 18 that the number of deaths could be up to 10,000.”
  26. I-35W Mississippi River bridge - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 18 May 2017. “On November 13, 2008, the NTSB released the findings of its investigation. The primary cause was the undersized gusset plates, at 0.5 inches (13 mm) thick. Contributing to that design or construction error was the fact that 2 inches (51 mm) of concrete had been added to the road surface over the years, increasing the static load by 20%. Another factor was the extraordinary weight of construction equipment and material resting on the bridge just above its weakest point at the time of the collapse. That load was estimated at 578,000 pounds (262 tonnes), consisting of sand, water and vehicles. The NTSB determined that corrosion was not a significant contributor, but that inspectors did not routinely check that safety features were functional.”
  27. 2007 California wildfires - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 18 May 2017. “The fires had numerous sources. Several were triggered by power lines damaged by the high winds.[17] [18] One fire started when a semi-truck overturned. Another was suspected as having been deliberately caused; the suspect was shot and killed in flight by state authorities. A 10-year-old boy admitted that he accidentally started the Buckweed Fire by playing with matches. Causes of the remaining fires remain under investigation. The last fires, the Santiago and Poomacha Fires, were fully contained on November 9, 2007, about 19 days after the series of wildfires had begun to ignite.”
  28. 2007–08 Writers Guild of America strike - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 18 May 2017. “According to a National Public Radio (NPR) report filed on February 12, 2008, the strike cost the economy of Los Angeles an estimated $1.5 billion. A report from the UCLA Anderson School of Management put the loss at $380 million, while economist Jack Kyser put the loss at $2.1 billion.”

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